Please let me have any tips, comments, ideas, problems or information that I can pass on to other hedgehog rehabilitators by way of this newsletter. If you are anywhere other than in the UK please remember this newsletter is about the European Hedgehog and that drugs and legal implications may be different in other countries Carers’ Tips

For any one trying to syringe feed a shy hog try dipping the end in honey. Not good for teeth but for just short term it works.

I often recommend fennel to help prevent bloat in hoglets. I have been using a Milupa baby drink that I think is now discontinued. A carer has been in touch to say that she has found a product called Windypops in a health food shop that seems to work – it is based on fennel and chamomile. She adds a drop to each feed.

When you get a call about a dead hedgehog – perhaps a female has been killed and her babies have been rescued – do get the person to bring the “dead” hedgehogs along as well as the living. Recently a non-breathing injured hedgehog made a miraculous recovery; leaving me to hand rear her hoglets. Remember that most members of the public have no idea whether a hedgehog is dead or alive and many have no idea of the size of adults and hoglets. A recent baby weighed 23oz.

On the subject of weights I ask people to weigh hedgehogs so I can give advice re feeding etc. Many people are hopeless and cannot estimate the size of a hedgehog even the palm of the hand or tennis ball sizes vary considerably. I feel it is far better to get an actual weight. Having said that a recent hedgehog was weighed at 8lbs, I naturally queried that and the weight then became 8oz. Several days later the hedgehog was brought to me almost dead. It weighed 80gms. This shows that to be absolutely sure about the advice you are giving you really need to see the hedgehog. My advice on the 8oz hedgehog was wrong because it was an 80gm hoglet (although they would not bring it to me anyway – until too late).

Requests for information
The originators of these questions have already received these comments but I am now sharing them with other readers:

Request 1 - We have a perfectly healthy hedgehog, apart from the fact that the end of its spines are curly. The vet is concerned that this might be a genetic problem. Has anyone come across anything like this before, and if so, can they shed any light on the subject?

Reply 1 - genetics or burning are the most likely explanations

Reply 2 - I have experienced this with hedgehogs & mite infestations. Several hedgehogs with a bad mite infestation have had very curly tips to spines including the 1st lot of new spines that have grown to replace any that have fallen. After the 2nd new lot of spines, they seem to revert to normal spines.

I have found a course of ivomectin injections, 0.02 cc (200microgrammes) per kg of hedgehog weight will cure this. One injection weekly for 5 or 6 weeks.

Reply 3 - It sounds more like a keratinization disorder. Dogs with zinc, vit A, and/or essential fatty acid deficiencies suffer from keratinization disorders. There are supplements that combine zinc and essential fatty acids. These are available from vets. "Efadose" by Virbac is one such product.

Reply 4 - Sorry I've never seen a hog with curly spines before. I would agree it is likely to be genetic. If you want to investigate it you could try sending spines and skin biopsies for microscopy / histopathology.

Reply 5 - I had several hedgehogs like this over the years, but they were all very dark in colour and did not put on weight as quick as the other litter members. I put them in a walled garden to monitor but to allow them their freedom. They all died before the winter and the vet and I check over the bodies and found they all had heart defects. I raised this with at two of Rays (Jackson) meetings at Petty Pool and some other carers have found the same thing, but have not had the bodies checked over.

The defect was a small hole in the heart but in two we also found an enlarged liver and in one other we found that only one kidney in the body (but the liver was normal in this hedgehog).

Reply 6 - Sorry, this a new one for me. One often hears about deformed spines, but consistently curly ones are not something I have heard of. Well worth a photo! I wonder if they are as stiff and robust as normal spines?

Finally - The vet suggested that we put it into an enclosed garden to live out its life and to prevent it from breeding in case it had a defective gene.

Note - This will enable the hedgehog to be monitored for any other problems and should later prickles grow through normally there is still the option to release.

Request 2 - Has anyone used Metacam (1.5% oral suspension) in the treatment of wounds and if so what dose was used.

Reply 1 - We have used metacam 1.5mg/ml oral suspension as pain relief at a dose rate of 0.5ml daily. We have not used it in the treatment of wounds alone only in conjunction with antibiotics. Hope this is of use

Reply 2 - Yes I have used this on hogs, as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory. The dose is quite difficult to work out as it’s a liquid and the dose rate is small, even for cats and dogs. On a decent sized hog, 1 small dose is enough. Much easier to use Rimadyl though.

Reply 3 - Yes I've used metacam for swellings and injuries and as pain relief. The dose is normally one drop per 500 grammes but it MUST be mixed into food as it causes GI bleeding if given neat

I have successfully used it in several cases, one with a broken nose & fractured jaw, one with a broken foot and abscesses and also one with just multiple leg abscesses.

My vet has advised me to only use it for 5/7 days at a time with at least one week break in between in small animals such as hedgehogs.

Reply 4 - Metacam (chemical name: Meloxicam) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. In other words, it is for pain relief. The formulary states," It is used to control mild to moderate pain and inflammation within the musculoskeletal system." I shouldn't think it would be of much use with wounds. The dose rate for small mammals is 0.2mg/kg sub cut for the injectable or by mouth for the liquid, palatable form. Doses should be given once every 24 hours.

Reply 5 - I have experience with this drug being used in rabbits. The oral form is mixed with a bit of ribena and the rabbit takes the medication readily. Metacam should NOT be given in conjunction with fluoroquinolones (eg BAYTRIL) due to an increased risk of convulsions. Metacam can be given with food for up to one month. Side effects include possible nausea and diarrhoea due to GI irritation or even ulceration. Renal complications are possible if the animal is dehydrated. Having said that, there are no side effect free drugs!

Reply 6 - Have used Metacam on the dog for years and also started to use Metacam as a painkiller for my hogs this year. Dose used on dog 1ml for every 1kg so use 0.1ml for every 100 grams for my hogs. Seems to have worked so far.

Reply 7 - I have used Metacam by injection 0.2mg/kg (0.4ml/10kg) and orally 1.5% solution 1drop/500gm. It is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, i.e. painkiller and anti-inflammatory like Rimadyl. It works very well but the problem is giving a dose small enough for most hogs.

Reply 8 - Metacam can probably be used at 1-4 drops (depending on size) once daily in the food for its anti-inflammatory effect for 3-5days.

Reply 9 - had a rescued hog in Nov.2001, which came to me via my vet's. It couldn't use its back legs at all though there wasn't actually an open wound. After 10 days treatment on half a drop (!) a day it was totally cured. The dose is actually 2 drops/kg hog's body wt. This was an Autumn Orphan. I can't see why it shouldn't reduce inflammation in a wound - unless the hog had gastro intestinal. problems as well, I don't think it would do any harm.

Reply 10 - The hedgehog for which Metacam was purchased was a youngish female 480 g that had been attacked by a weasel. The hedgehog had been eaten at just behind the head. It had tooth marks near eyes a chewed portion near the left ear and tooth wounds on the snout. It was given Rimadyl injections to start with. The wounds were badly infected and had to be kept open and cleaned every day. Baytril 2.5% was given and I was told to give her 1 ml of it, a massive dose. The Metacam was given as 3 drops a day in food. and appeared to give relief. I've used Metacam since in a case of ? bladder infection (blood in urine) and the hoglet became less restless. As Metacam is a NSAID I am certain it should always be delivered in food

Request 3 - I have a little baby hedgehog who has been with us for the past two weeks. When it came in it only weighed 80gms and I thought by its appearance and features it was between three to four weeks old, (small puppy nose, very small first set of teeth). I have been feeding it every three hours by syringe with goat’s milk and Hills AD but it doesn't put on any weight and its appearance and features have never changed over the two weeks. It continues to whimper like a baby to be fed but will not feed itself. You would almost think that it has got stuck in a time warp!

I was wondering if anyone has experienced anything like this before, as I am totally at sea here. In other words am I going to be feeding this 'baby' indefinitely?

Reply 1 - It sounds like some congenital problem and the prognosis may be poor. Has it any diarrhoea or other symptoms.

Reply 2 - I've had at least one hog that would appear to have been the runt of a litter and would therefore not have survived in the wild. However, his 2 siblings ate well and were released back to the wild, whilst I pampered this "runt" - she was so sweet and she lived with me in a box indoors for maybe 6 months, on goats milk, wild food I could find, and mealworms, until she did stop eating and died.

Reply 3 - Yes I have had a strange "baby" in this season. She arrived 19th.July weighing 120g,the chap had found her at the side of the road and took her home. He had fed her scraps etc. and had her for 4 weeks when he brought her to me as he was going on holiday. She was very small and I couldn’t really gauge how old she was she should have been much bigger. I fed her with Cimicat with cereal added. She was very weak holding herself strangely and her snout was to one side. I presumed she had been knocked by a car or something but didn’t have any old injuries. She gained weight very slowly for the first month was up and down then suddenly started gaining steadily. She is now 501gr.but is still so small; she is very round, not like a normal hog of that weight. She is still a bit unsteady so I wont release her. I let her wander round my Hog Hut whilst I am pottering about etc. I am glad she isn’t the only strange hog. Looking at her you wouldn’t think she weighed 501g.

Reply 4 - We had exactly the same thing with three hogs from a litter of five. They died after we'd had them three weeks, four weeks and seven weeks respectively. We hand fed them constantly and they didn't put on any weight at all. A post mortem by a vet showed that they died of hepatitis, cause unknown. The other two in the litter grew normally and were subsequently released.

Reply 5 - Your carer's baby hedgehog which doesn't appear to be developing could have a congenital abnormality even if it appears normal externally. Liver problems - enzyme deficiencies, (I don't know of any officially recorded in hogs, but it is possible). Portosystemic shunts, or even central nervous problems (hypoxia at birth) could cause these sort of symptoms in which case the prognosis is not very good.

Reply 6 - Has the carer tried worming it? I had a hoglet that came to me weighing 40 gms and despite taking the Esbilac feeds eagerly, she 'hovered' between 40 - 50 gms for 12 days. She had diarrhoea so I was giving her extra Lectade feeds as well. I tried tribrissen (antibiotic), but after four days the diarrhoea still persisted, and as she still wasn't putting on weight and getting weaker, I gave her synulox. The diarrhoea stopped almost immediately and I was able to check microscopically the first solid dropping I got. Threadworms!! I started giving liquid panacur and the hoglet began putting on weight and I have had no further problems at all.

Reply 7 - I often have this problem. I give Vermifuge or Flagil or Pancrex vet power or bykahépar. I analyse the faeces too.

Request 4 - I also have a hedgehog that came in with a head wound - foul play cannot be ruled out. As a result it has peripheral nerve damage and is paralysed down one side. Despite this it is eating fairly well. Will rest eventually heal the nerve damage or will this be permanent? Is there any form of medication that will speed things up? eg steroids.

Reply 1 - certainly steroids are used frequently in neurological conditions. Steroids reduce inflammation, which should, in theory, reduce the pressure in the brain and assist recovery. Physiotherapy is also advised. Passive movement stretches, massage and range of motion exercises should be practiced or the muscles will atrophy and the injured side will be less mobile, even if full neurological healing takes place.

Reply 2 - I would seek the advice of a good wildlife vet on this one. My feeling is that Metacam and/or steroids would be worth a try.

Reply 3 - Only time will tell, nerve damage can take a very long time to heal and then maybe only partially. I suggest giving it 6wks at the most 12 but you should see some improvement in the meantime.

Reply 4 - The paralysed hog is obviously a worry, it is important to make sure that it doesn't develop sores. The paralysis could improve but if the hog is not mobile in 4 - 6 weeks or if it deteriorates then it may be better to put it to sleep.

Reply 5 - I have in the sanctuaire many hedgehogs with neurologic problem, we have good results with CANDILAT or KARSIVAN Request 5 - Traps and Snares

DEFRA are looking into the present legislation regarding snares and traps. Could you let me know how many hedgehogs you have had that have been caught in snares or traps (including info on injury)?

Non healing wound – further comments:

Number 1 - We have had 2 similar cases with non-healing wounds and persistent abscesses. We had tried all usual remedies, including Tea tree etc

Both cases despite usual 7/10 days of Baytril still wouldn't heal. After consultation with our vet came up with up to 14 days of Baytril orally or by injection and ANTIROBE sprinkled into the open wound. Open an antirobe capsule and sprinkle a 1/4 capsule daily in the open wound or abscess. In both our cases once we started the treatment we had almost instant success. One with chest wound and abscess that had been 4 weeks & not healing, healed completely within 10 days of treatment and the second with multiple wounds and abscesses on legs healed quickly also. As a matter of course now as soon as I get a hedgehog with an open wound or an abscess, I sprinkle antirobe into the wound and give Baytril orally. And all cases have healed much quicker than previously.

You might have to get the vet to lance an abscess for you or debride the wound in the first place, but the two-pronged approach of Antirobe and Baytril definitely works Number 2 - hydrogen peroxide was suggested as a wound cleaner - please remark in the next newsletter that hydrogen peroxide actually kills cells, even in the dilute form. It inhibits wound healing and is really NOT recommended. (I have done some serious study on this as I have a diploma in dermatology.) Saline is the very best thing for cleaning wounds. Even ordinary salt water can be used beneficially.

Alcohol – comments received
Comment 1 A friend of mine, returning from hospital after childbirth said of laughing gas (nitrous oxide?) 'I still felt the pain but somehow didn't care about it so much.'

Descriptions of limb setting and amputation in history indicate that for those that could afford it, a mixture of rum and brandy was used. The patients would scream, or if they felt the need 'to be a man' grit teeth and groan until they passed out from the pain. Not encouraging.

There is another other complication: alcohol increases the flow of blood. Not that mattered to 18th/19th century doctors for they promptly cupped their patients in order to save them from developing a fever. The patient would then lie still and go to sleep, felt to be A Good Thing. Also would neat alcohol cause ulceration of the stomach?

Hedgehog Awareness Week
Hedgehog Awareness Week is now the responsibility of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. It will run the same as before but any information packs etc will be distributed by the BHPS. The 2004 week runs from 2nd-8th May.

Courses etc
Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital annual symposium is on the 15th November at Reaseheath Agricultural College, Nantwich Cheshire. The programme includes:

Pre- and Post-Release Study on Hedgehogs - Simon Allen: Gower Bird Hospital
Wildlife Rehab Module on Animal Care Courses - Terri Amery: Reaseheath College
Poisoning in Wildlife Casualties - Dick Best BVSc MRCVS
Feed the Animal - Not the Bowl - Dave Townsend: Weirfield Wildlife Hospital
Post-Release Studies on Badgers - Adam Grogan
Bats, Bat Workers and Rabies - Where Do We Go From Here? - Maggie Brown

Costs for just the day are £30 although there are options for B&B etc. For more details contact Ray Jackson, Lower Moss Wood Wildlife Hospital, School Lane, Ollerton, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 8SJ or e-mail or telephone 01565 755082

European Hedgehog Research Group (EHRG) 6th International Hedgehog Workshop 3rd – 4th April 2004, Münster, Germany. Venue: The meeting will take place in a conference room at the Hotel Wersetürmken or the Hotel Wersehof depending on the numbers attending. Both are on the outskirts of Münster. Travel details will be circulated by post or e-mail with the final programme to all EHRG members and to those offering papers.

Cost: The conference registration fee will be 30 EUR, 20 EUR for students. The price will include each day morning and afternoon coffee/tea, and a hot dish lunch. No evening meals will be included. A list of places offering accommodation near to the “Wersetürmken” will be send out with the final programme. Contact Janet Peto for more information.

If you are organising a course or know of one please let me know and I can include it in the next newsletter, the next issue will be out towards the end of January 2004.

Please send any comments or contributions for the next newsletter to:
Kay Bullen, 5 Foreland Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 7AR tel 029 20623985.
web site at:
Oct 2003

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